Little Gull

Hydrocoloeus minutus




Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Yellow or green with gray and red brown marks

Number of Eggs:

1 - 5

Incubation Days:

23 - 25

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with grasses and leaves.





Little Gull: Small gull with pale gray upperparts and white nape, neck, breast, belly, and tail. Hood is black and extends onto upper neck. Underwings are dark. Sexes are similar. Winter adult has white head with dark cap and eyespot. Juvenile has dark markings on head, including a spot behind the eye, and upperparts, "W" pattern across upperwings, and dark tail band. 1st winter resembles juvenile but has pale gray back. 1st summer resembles breeding adult but hood is mottled with white and wings retain dark markings. 2nd winter resembles winter adult but shows dark on flight feathers.

Range and Habitat

Little Gull: Breeds in central Europe east to southern Siberia. In recent years, breeds locally in Ontario and Wisconsin; winters regularly in small numbers in eastern North America, especially along coast from New Brunswick to New Jersey and on Great Lakes. Preferred habitats include estuaries, lakes, and coasts.

Breeding and Nesting

Little Gull: One to five yellow or green eggs marked with gray and red brown are laid in a ground nest lined with grass and leaves built among marsh vegetation. Incubation ranges from 23 to 25 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Little Gull: Feeds on small fish, worms, insects, and crustaceans. Picks food off the water surface; also catches insects in the air.


Little Gull: Call is a soft "kuk-kuk-kuk-kuk."

Similar Species

Little Gull: Bonaparte's and Black-headed gulls have white wedges on upperwings and black primary tips visible in flight or at rest.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The upper front part of a bird.
The area on top of the head of the bird.
Flight feathersX
Located on the wing, and collectively called remiges (singular, remex). The long stiff feathers are subdivided into two major groups based on the location and are called primaries and secondaries.
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X